SERVICES:
Brand Strategy, Visual Identity, Copywriting, Social Media Strategy, Responsive Website, Print Collateral, Product Packaging, Product Display, Trade Show Displays.

BACKGROUND

We got a phone call from an old acquaintance saying, “I’m not sure if this is your thing or not, but I work for a company run by a Hutterite community in Canada who needs an agency to help them build a product brand.”

There are a million things about that sentence that piqued our interest, not in the least of which were the words “Hutterite” and “Product.” After an informational video conference, we were sold that this was a team we could get in the trenches with. Within a week, the contract was signed and Krysta had booked her flight to Winnipeg where she would meet up with the team at the airport and drive a few hours to the Crystal Spring colony.

This colony is a well-oiled, sophisticated and profitable machine. While their lifestyle is traditional and communal, their colony (as a business) is solid. They have spent years creating patents, designs and fully producing hog equipment that are distributed worldwide and were looking to go to market with an innovative wood pellet/propane hybrid BBQ grill.

OPPORTUNITY

While they were known for their success in the hog feed industry, they were trying to branch into an entirely new space with this product. We wanted to make sure we were creating a foundation that was indicative to Black Earth alone without compromising the relationship it has with the Crystal Spring brand. The same people would be carrying out shipment orders for the grills as would be assembling the products sold by Crystal Spring. In a sense, this was a brand architecture issue: A mother brand with a sub-branch serving another purpose.

There’s a fine balance here because you don’t want to separate the two entirely. The goal is to let them serve different functions while still receognizing they’re a part of the same team.

OUR CUSTOM SOLUTION

We met with the team leaders and discussed production timelines, distribution goals and pending patent approvals. This served as our guideline for how we set the pace for creating the brand’s message, voice and touchpoints. We built a custom strategy that informed how the grill would be communicated both verbally and visually. It was important to highlight the uniqueness of the community the product originated from without causing doubt that the community would be able to deliver (see aforementioned assumption that they are like the Amish).

Our team then worked on the basic foundation of the brand and the opportunity to create a lifestyle experience that shows the user the multiple functions of the grill and the problems it solves in the grill space. From there, we used this information as the guideline for how the team would pitch the grill at tradeshows and to distributors.


Black-Eart-Logo


This is the best case scenerio for our team: that we are given an opportunity to emerse ourselves in your world to best understand the dynamics surrounding, informing and complicating the brand.

We’re not sure what we expected. In our ignorance, we likely assumed Hutterites were akin to the Amish. Boy were we wrong (do NOT compare them to the Amish … big mistake). While our Hutterite clients value growing their own food and wearing traditional clothing, they embrace technology and and crave innovation. Their hard work ethic, mixed with a little rebellian, tenacity and smarts was a perfect match for our team. It was incredible to see authentic community in action and to have been invited into a relationship with them. Krysta even got smoked ribs for dinner and home made jam on homemade bread for breakfast. Her Midwest stomach felt right at home and our friendship with our new clients was cemented. We finished out the first phase of brand development via Skype.

ONGOING RELATIONSHIP

As with any product launch, the natural inclination is to go big the second an announcement is made. Since this is a specialty product that the market isn’t familiar with, we agreed this launch needed to have a slower pace. Setting a strategy for a multi-phase launch allows the team to assess the market response and adjust accordingly without losing marketing dollars on campaigns that were set in motion prematurely.

We kicked into action once the completion of their first working prototype was built. The unit was complete for unveiling at a national trade-show and we worked quickly to art direct and design a comprehensive trade-show experience. The team them translated the designs onto raw materials in-house. Our Creative Director, Gary, met up with the team at the trade-show in New Orleans to offer assistance. Along with making sure the booth was functioning as we had planned, he also spent time observing the way attendees interacted with the product before heading home.

Upon return, we had a meeting with the Black Earth team to compare notes and set priorities for next steps. As a result of that meeting, we plan to deliver package designs, develop and execute a social media strategy that reflects the brand’s promise and create appropriate print materials for the user experience within the next 3 months. We will continue to keep this page updated as more examples are completed!